9 places in the Boston area that will unleash your kids’ creativity

Fun activities for the whole family, no matter the forecast.

MFA Boston,, Ma., 04/20/10:Making a mask is Anna Pham from Doechester seated in the European Gallery at the MFA. Hundreds of kids will flood the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), for free interactive performances, art making activities, and family tours taking place during School Vacation Week (April 20-23). The MFA will present Ancient Mysteries as part of the Cogan Family Foundation Vacation Week Adventures. The series of events features unsolved mysteries hidden in ancient masterpieces found throughout the Museum galleries as well as an interactive tour of an Egyptian Tomb. Children will also learn to write in hieroglyphs and paint mosaics along with other art activities throughout the galleries. ( David L Ryan / Globe Staff ) section: FEATURE slug: reporter DO NOT DELETE! 18vacation The Boston Globe

Over the past month, the weather has been warm and then cold, spring-y and then snowy. Literally. It’s not ideal for planning fun family adventures. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel and plop your kids in front of a TV. From painting and sewing to cooking and slime-ing, here are nine not-weather-dependent spots in the Boston area where your children can create, explore, and imagine—and maybe even discover a new talent or two.

1. They can get crafty at Muckykids Art Studio

The cozy studio’s wide variety of tactile, arts and crafts, and painting projects changes weekly. Think: glittery puppets, laminated backpack charms, and even homemade slime. While instructions are provided and staff members are available to offer guidance, the beauty of Muckykids’s drop-in hours is letting your child experiment with the materials and use them as they wish—so be prepared for lots of messy fun. Classes are also available for kids between the ages of 18 months and 7 years. (1776 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; drop in Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; $15 per child/per hour, no pre-registration necessary)

need a costume for tomorrow? we have paper plate masks and lots of fun decor to customize with ? open 9a-5p today&tomorrow!

A photo posted by Muckykids Art Studio (@muckykids) on

2. Break out the tools at Home Depot and Lowe’s

Let your children explore their inner do-it-yourselfers at local Home Depot and Lowe’s stores. Each month, both chains offer free workshops and clinics especially designed for kids, inviting them to experiment with tools as they build wooden toy boxes, birdhouses, castles, and much more. Projects are generally aimed at kids between the ages of 5 to 12. Both programs fill up quickly, so advance registration is strongly recommended and can be done online. (Home Depot free kids workshops at select Home Depot stores nationwide; first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.;  free; register online) (Lowe’s Build and Grow clinics at select Lowe’s stores nationwide; select Saturday mornings; free; register online)

3. Discover their inner Picasso at Palette’s

You may have attended a paint bar with your friends; Palette’s Sunday afternoon family paint event is one of the best for your little Picassos. A resident artist will walk you and your children through the selected painting of the day, which could be anything from penguins to bumblebees to the beloved Make Way for Ducklings statue. It’s a blast to see how everyone in the class—parents and kids alike—interprets the same painting in completely different ways. Paintings are available to take home that day, so be prepared to create a gallery at home to display your masterpieces. Healthy munchies, as well as cupcakes, cookies, and other treats, are available for purchase. (29 Main St., Natick; Family Paint on Sundays at 1:30 p.m.; $25 per person, including supplies; online registration required)

Painting with the girls.

A photo posted by Kate Scarlata (@katescarlata) on

4. Explore the sciences at Parts and Crafts

Every Saturday afternoon, Parts and Crafts’s “family hackerspace” provides the real tools, gadgets, and materials (think 3-D printers, a wood shop, saws, craft supplies, and lots of LEDs) to create, collaborate, and even take stuff apart. The best part? Participation is free, although donations are welcome. (577 Somerville Ave., Somerville; Open Shop is on Saturdays from 12-2 p.m.; free/by donation)

5. Learn to sew at J.P. Knit & Stitch

This sunny yarn and fabric store in the heart of Jamaica Plain offers kids’ knitting and sewing clubs for new sewers and knitters (ages 8 to 13) so they can learn the basics in a relaxing, no-pressure environment. Their next four-session-long Friday Kids’ Sewing Club kicks off on April 1 at 4 p.m. (461 Centre St., Jamaica Plain; $100 plus materials; register online)

6. Sketch away at the Museum of Fine Arts

Did you know families can stop by the Sharf Visitor Center at the Museum of Fine Arts and ask for a tote bag with drawing materials and activities? Then, as you go through the galleries, ask your kids to sketch their favorite works and see how they interpret some of the museum’s masterpieces. Or, try playing games like “I Spy,” or finding all the things that are blue in a particular gallery. Little details that may have been overlooked could spark your children’s imagination. Pick up the MFA’s Art Connections Card for other ways your kids can engage with the art during your visit. (465 Huntington Ave., Boston; see full schedule here; kids 6 and under are free; kids 7 to 17 are free during non-school hours; adults cost $25)

7. Paint their own pottery at Made by Me

Kids can drop by, select an unfinished (yet functional) piece of pottery—a vase, an ornament, a plate, a mug, a flower pot, a piggy bank—gather as many colors as they’d like, then get to work. The finished masterpiece is glazed, fired in the kiln, and becomes available for pick-up in six days. (1685 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday from 12-6 p.m.; cost dependent on piece chosen plus $4 per half-hour per painter)

Here comes a mug!

A photo posted by Rbrodeur77 (@bobby_brodeur) on

8. Cook up a storm at Whole Foods Dedham

Your little chefs (ages 9 to 12) can learn basic skills in the kitchen while they create healthy snacks and fun desserts…and even expand their sandwich repertoire. And at $5 a session, it’s quite the steal. The next class is scheduled for Sunday, April 24. Private cooking classes for kids ages 5 to 12 are also available. (Kids in the Kitchen program at Whole Foods Dedham, 300 Legacy Pl., Dedham; hours vary; $5; private kids’ cooking lessons are $40/hr; registration required)

9. String up some jewelry at Bead + Fiber

Beading is an easy skill for kids of all ages to master, yet still gets their creative juices flowing as they string together beads of varying colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. Over in the South End, Bead + Fiber’s introductory classes for kids include Stringing 101 and Kumihimo, or finger-loop braiding. (460 Harrison Ave., Boston; days, hours, and fees vary; register online)


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